After spending two weeks here in Kyrgyzstan it was wonderful, I mean it is always great when you spend it with friends and get to experience any country with locals, but if you are coming here without knowing anyone there can still be a lot to do.
When you come from Canada and Finland there is far more snow in both countries at this time of year, but it is a pleasure to be walking around Bishkek in a nice temperature (between +5C and -5C). Especially when the winter fog disappears and the sun finally comes out again. When you leave the capital and go out into the countryside a bit you get a far better picture of the country, the farming villages, high mountains, and beautiful rivers.
Early on in our stay we had the opportunity to go to Chunkurchuk a ski hill only about 25 km outside of Bishkek. We spent the day there snowboarding in the sun, which overlooked the mountain peaks (including the khazak mountains). The prices were reasonable at 1200 Som (approx. $23 CDN and 17 EURO) for the day pass and an additional 1200 Som to rent, which can be much more reasonable than most places back home. A simple hill that was well groomed, a little bit of powder on the sides and a lift that looked quite maintained. There were no jumps and quite a bit of people, I am not used to such things coming from Northern Canada. Regardless, snowboarding and skiing here has grown over the last few years and you can tell that there were less experienced people on this hill, whereas more skilled people are perhaps choosing to board at much bigger hills further from the city.
The downtown core is simple, not the cleanest and constantly has ongoing construction. However, there are some nice shops that we have been going in and out with souvenirs, clothes and electronics. The Ala-Too Square is an important part to visit as well, due to the history of the square. Once built during the Soviet times, it was once the key point in the 2010 revolution which overthrew the government and the left a significant number of protesters dead. On the right side of the big black fence surrounding the “white house” you can notice the bullet holes in the bars of the fence. These bullet holes were apparently from snipers that were on the roof and shooting at protesters. Furthermore, you can walk along this main street with open park areas and steps and fountains to sit on.
Lastly, there are a few year-round markets that are worth seeing, with fruits, vegetables, nuts, bread and other goodies. I have spent time in a number of markets in different countries, notable ones being China and Morocco, which were both far pushier and stressful than the ones here. In the markets here in Bishekek the people were nice, friendly, and more than willing to have you take pictures of their spices and nuts. In fact, the prices were more than reasonable where Kaisa and I bought almost 25 Euros worth of nuts, raisins, and apricots.
Only two more days in Bishkek and me and Kaisa will be in different places for a while, I will be heading to India to do more hockey stuff with The Hockey Foundation and she will be off to Berlin to visit friends.